MONTREAL, March 27, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - Every year in Québec, more than 400 million refundable bottles and cans are not put back into our recycling systems. These containers end up in the garbage. By not claiming the deposit on returnable containers, Quebeckers are losing out on $20 million a year.
"By not returning refundable containers, we are wasting precious resources (aluminum and plastic). The industry must manufacture new containers from non-recycled materials, which costs more, consumes more energy and pollutes more. However, bringing a refundable container back to the store is simple and recycling is efficient," declared Normand Bisson, director of finances and operations at BGE. Because of the deposit system and thanks to the efforts of most Quebeckers, BGE and their partners are able to recycle more than a billion containers, about 67% of all containers used. "When you realize that it takes between 250 and 500 years for a can or bottle to break down in the environment, the importance of taking returnable containers back to the store becomes obvious," added Bisson.
DEPOSITS IN QUÉBEC
The Québec deposit system has been around since 1984. CONSIGNaction is an environmental program that promotes and maximizes the recycling of returnable containers. Returned refundable containers are recycled 100% and 60 days after the can has been put in the collection box, it is back on the store shelf, shiny and new. More than 1 billion containers are recycled this way every year.
CONSIGNaction, a creation of Boissons Gazeuses Environment, encompasses various projects to make consumers aware of recycling refundable containers and facilitate access to recycling infrastructures, inside or outside of the home. To know if a container is refundable or not, just look for the message "consigné 5 cents refund" on the can.
RECOVERY, DEPOSIT AND RECYCLING
"There's a lot of confusion between recovering, recycling and the deposit. They are three complementary activities and each has its place. Every action counts," explains Bisson.
Recovery is the action of collecting used materials (such as cans and bottles) in order to process them for a new use. So when you take a re-useable container back to the store or put it in a collection/refund bin, that is recovery, which leads to recycling operations.
Deposit: The deposit/refund system applies a deposit a containers to motivate consumers to return the container and get the deposit back. The deposit/refund system is cost-free for the person returning the container. It is only those who choose to throw the container away that assume financial and environmental costs. Because the various stakeholders involved in the deposit/return system want to get the most value from the refund, deposits ensure that containers returned to retailers are 100% recycled.
Recycling is the processing of refuse to reintroduce material from a product that has reached the end of its useful life into the production cycle of a similar product. People themselves do not recycle their containers; they give their garbage to a specialized company that takes care of it.
A GREEN PATH
Aluminum cans deposited into a collection/refund bin at a store or a CONSIGNaction recycling bin are taken to a conditioner that compacts them into large 500-kg cubes. These cubes are taken to a recycler that shreds them, scrubs them, liquefies them in an oven, then casts them into aluminum ingots. Each ingot will be used to produce 1,800 new cans and other useful objects. The cans can be found on the shelves again 60 days after they were returned to the store.
Plastic bottles put into a collection/refund bin in a store or in a CONSIGNaction recycling bin are taken to a conditioner that sorts, crushes and washes them. This plastic material is transformed into flakes (shavings) that are then extruded (mechanical process that melts the plastic and passes it through a die for a pre-determined shape). The oblong extrusion is cut up into pieces to make granules. These granules are integrated into the production process at various factories as raw and secondary material to produce new bottles, park benches, fleece jackets, tents, backpacks, etc.
Glass bottles returned to stores are sorted and crushed to obtain "cullet," a type of broken glass that is added to sand, sodium hydroxide and calcium hydroxide to produce new containers. When the cullet is heated above 1500 ºC it can be formed into any shape and becomes another bottle. All that's left to do is fill the new bottles at a bottling plant and put them into the distribution channel. Glass is a material that can be recycled endlessly, just like aluminum.
Facts and figures
- Each year, 1.5 billion single-use returnable containers are in circulation in Québec, or 1 million every day.
- Because of the deposit system, BGE and its partners manage to recycle more than a billion of them, about 67%. 5% of the containers are also put into the separate collection without being returned for the deposit.
- That leaves about 400,000,000 that are neither returned to the store nor recycled.
- If you calculate all the nickels that are not returned, you arrive at $20 million in deposits that goes unclaimed.
- A plastic bottle can take up to 500 years to break down. Aluminum cans take 250 to 500 years to break down and glass bottles, thousands of years.
- Every ton of recycled plastic bottles saves 3.8 barrels of oil.
- 100% of containers returned to retailers are recycled.
- It takes 25 2-litre plastic bottles to make a backpack.
- 90 2-litre bottles can be used to make a 2-person tent.
- One aluminum can can be recycled endlessly without ever losing its properties.
- Making a can from refundable aluminum containers consumes 95% less energy than making cans from raw materials.
- 60 days after recovering the aluminum in returnable cans, new cans made of the recycled aluminum are on the grocery-store shelves.
- Each year in Québec, 12,600 metric tons of returnable containers are recovered, the equivalent of 52 Boeing 747s.
BGE (Boissons Gazeuses Environnement) is a non-profit organization created by the Québec soft drink industry to manage the deposit/return system of single-use soft drink containers and ensure compliance with deposit laws, regulations and the consignment agreement. BGE's mission is to help protect the environment by encouraging the recovery and recycling of single-use soft drink containers.
CONSIGNaction promotes and maximizes the recovery of returnable containers. Created by BGE, CONSIGNaction encompasses a variety of programs to induce consumers to recycle and to facilitate access to recycling infrastructures. For more information, call 1 877 CANETTE or go to CONSIGNaction.ca.
Contact: CONSIGNACTION AND BGE